It is challenging to follow up on one of Marvel’s all-time favorite movies. Yet it has been wilder and more ambitious under Taika Waititi.
After the film’s 2017 reboot, Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi returns with Thor: Love and Thunder (out July 8). Like its predecessor, Love and Thunder chronicles the intergalactic journey of Thor, the god of thunder.
And ahead of the film’s premiere, Waititi and cast members Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale told EW a spoiler-free take on the Around the Table series.
Waititi said the biggest challenge was designing a story aligned with Ragnarok and opening up a new path for the hero: romantically, to be precise.
“I was thinking, what would freak the fans out – and not in a good way?” the writer-director elaborates.
“You associate Thor [with being a] big hero. The last thing a Thor fan really wants to see is the word ‘love.’ They’re like, ugh, kissing! So, I was like, ‘we’ll lean into that.’ We’ll make them love love and make the fans excited for a romance.”
Hemsworth has represented the character for more than a decade, beginning with the original 2011 Thor movie and as the character in countless other Marvel movies.
In recent years, poor Thor has endured the death of his entire family, the destruction of his home at the hands of Thanos, and other life-altering trauma – says Hemsworth, who was thrilled to see the Thunderlord breaking new ground.
“We’ve kind of broken the character down and rebuilt him a number of times,” Hemsworth says. “What we hadn’t sort of explored was the romantic comedy set in space.”
Waititi then adds: “Mixed with a mid-life crisis.”
Besides Waititi and Hemsworth, Love and Thunder also bring Thompson’s Valkyrie and Portman’s Jane Foster back. The latter currently takes up Thor’s old hammer, Mjolnir and handles her own powers.
However, the movie presents Bale’s wicked Gorr the God Butcher, whom Waititi described as “probably one of the best villains that Marvel’s had in their films.”
On top of giving out the movie’s best and most thrilling fight scenes, the cast also talks about stunt training and secretly watching Russell Crowe rehearse his lightning bolt spins.
“He would sometimes stand outside of my trailer, practicing,” Thompson says. “He’d be in his tennis skirts with his little tendrils… It was the cutest thing.”
The cast also complimented Waititi for always making the mood great on set – by always, even when he was holding push-up competitions or deciding on the perfect playlist.
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